Remember, if caught early enough, bowel cancer can be cured.

Some people feel embarrassed about discussing bowel problems with their doctor. By the time the patient seeks medical advice because he or she cannot cope any longer with his or her symptoms,it can sometimes be too late. Be sensible.

Bowel Cancer Discovery by Scientists in Wales

date 15/02/2007

When healthy parents both carry a defective gene called MYH, their children are at very high risk of coming down with bowel cancer, researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine say in an article in this tomorrow’s eminent ‘ The Lancet’ journal for the medical profession.

"Until this discovery was made it was believed that inherited forms of bowel cancer were transmitted from one affected parent to their children and then to their grandchildren," said Julian Sampson, Professor of Genetics at UWCM and lead author of the article.

"In contrast, the defective MYH gene that we have discovered causes cancer through recessive inheritance. Parents are healthy carriers of the gene but if both pass the defective gene to a child, he or she will be at very high risk of bowel cancer. This is the same way in which Cystic Fibrosis is passed from healthy parents to their offspring."

Professor Sampson's research team identified the MYH gene last year in a family in which three siblings had developed bowel cancer. The team then examined the medical history of over 600 families in the United Kingdom with bowel cancer and found that 111 of those families did fit into established patterns for genetic causes of the disease. The families included Caucasians, Indians and Pakistanis.

"The MYH gene was the causative factor in one quarter of these cases and MYH's role is to repair damage to DNA. When both copies of MYH are defective genetic damage goes unrepaired so predisposing to bowel cancer."

Professor Sampson said that a DNA testing technique could be used to identify those at risk before symptoms are present and before the associated cancers become dangerous.

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